Globally, an estimated 10 million people develop tuberculosis (TB) each year and the disease remains a leading cause of death from a single infectious agent. Standard short-course anti-TB treatment still requires a regimen of at least six months of antimicrobial drugs, and drug-resistant TB is an increasing public health threat. Even after the traces of TB disease are quashed, patients often suffer from significant sequelae, such as lung scarring. TB survivors have approximately three to four times greater mortality than their local population. In pulmonary TB, the most common form of active TB disease, the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria causes the formation of sites of high bacterial load, known as cavities. These cavities are poorly penetrated by TB drugs. After TB treatment is complete, there is likely to be tissue damage within the lungs that can lead to further lung problems such as permanent respiratory dysfunction leading to difficulty in breathing, stiffness in the lungs and bronchiectasis, which can make people cough up blood. Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine's Infectious Diseases Translational Research Programme have discovered that the use of a common antibiotic, doxycycline, in combination with TB drug treatment, reduces the size of lung cavities and accelerates markers of lung recovery.
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